Looking out the window with a wanderlust for the next travel adventure

Wanderlust: The Growing Trend in Wanderlust Culture

September 21st, 2020

Not all those who wander are lost. This Tolkien quote is ubiquitous, and can be seen on stickers, shirts, mugs, and tattoos across the country. More than a catchy phrase, the moniker is an insight into the minds of those who are enraptured by Wanderlust. What is this growing trend, and who are taking part? Come explore the lives of those who have made exploring their lives.

Roots of the Uprooted

Wanderlust, as defined by the Oxford dictionary, is a strong desire or impulse to travel. Although simple sounding, such a broad definition is hard to unpack without a knowledge of how it came to be. A quick glance at a timeline of the word’s usage shows that it began in the early 1900s, perhaps during a prosperous time between the first world war and the great depression. The improvement of transportation, and the propagation of personally owned cars, enabled Americans to travel with ease, and more frequently. A prime example is seen in the 1915 campaign “See America First”. Sponsored by the transportation powerhouse, the Great Northern Railway, the campaign fought against the notion that beautiful scenery only lay outside the U.S. in faraway countries. As cities and states became more interconnected, Americans were able to, and encouraged, to get out and travel. The humble beginnings of the culture of tourism was the likely start of wanderlust.

Love for Fellow Nature Lovers

To speak only of the systems that began the idea of wanderlust would be an error of omission. It is likely that this longing for travel was planted in the hearts of many by a famous few. Giants in the world of the outdoors such as John Muir and Henry David Thoreau served as models of what it meant to be a lover of nature. As these names grow older, they have been replaced by adventure brands who have reignited passions for the outdoors. Brilliant marketing and advances in recreation equipment led to the widespread boom in outdoor adventures. The final catalyst for the growth of wanderlust into the heart of America has been through social media. With a flick of the thumb, beautiful vistas, trails, and landscapes can be seen on any given social media platform. These breathtaking photos are taken by those who seemingly have left the cares of the world behind, laced up their shoes, and went adventuring. Not content to simply admire the beautiful photos, those viewers are spurred to action, to ditch suburbia and get out and explore for themselves.

High on the Mountains

Looking back, it is plain to see how wanderlust began and has spread. Even though its method of spreading has evolved, the core principle of wanderlust has been a constant. Those who are consumed by wanderlust are usually found in one of two places; wandering or planning. Their hearts are most content when they are on the trail, hiking or backpacking through forests, deserts, plains, and mountains. Some trails are popular hikes to vistas while others are remote and lesser known. However, they all share the fact that they bring communion between the hiker and mother nature. Those taken by wanderlust will seek out camping classics such as Yosemite, the Grand Tetons, the Appalachians, but are equally enthralled by watching the sun set behind some unnamed hill.

Always Seeking the Next Send

When not in the great outdoors, those with wanderlust are constantly thinking about their next adventure. They are scouring maps for trails and campsites and listening to the stories of fellow travelers. They restlessly sort and repack their gear while counting down the days until they can hit the road again. Perhaps they even sort through photos from their last expedition, sharing them online and reliving their favorite moments. Lastly, and most importantly, they are listening to the aching of their hearts, as it pulls them towards where they really feel alive. No, not to a place, but to a state of being, a oneness with nature that can only be found on the trail.